St. Michael the Archangel Church

A distinguishing church of roman-byzantine style standing in the very center of Kaunas city is the St. Michael the Archangel Church which is better known as Kaunas sobor. Although it is now a Roman Catholic church it is closely related with Russian orthodox customs because basically it was built by Russian empire.

When Kaunas city was the main defender of the western board of Russian Empire, tsar Alexander II ordered to build Kaunas fortress in 1879. The Fortress seemed to be a very important project so there was a need to build an administrative complex which also included the nowadays St. Michael the Archangel Church. It was built as a representative building of the Kaunas Fortress which had to demonstrate luxury and distance of the Kaunas Fortress and tsarist powers.

The orthodox sobor was built according to a form of byzantine temple so that it would at least a little bit remind Christianity. Only steady and long lasting materials were used to build the church as well as modern these times technologies used. While building this massive building it was a ferroconcrete cupola of 16,3 meters diameter constructed which then was the largest cupola ever in Lithuania. Until 1985 the inside interior of the church was decorated with paintings where Greek elements dominated. The Iconic scheme here established involved 122 paintings, 12 bells were hanged in all minor cupolas of the nowadays St. Michael the Archangel Church. When in 1915 Germans occupied Kaunas city despite the fact that Russia hardly focused on defense, St. Michael the Archangel Church was a place where masses for evangel Lutheran soldiers were held.

After the First World War the nowadays St. Michael the Archangel Church was declared to be a national Lithuanian possession and then it was given the name of St. Michael the Archangel. But in 1962, when Lithuania was ruled by Soviet occupants, Russian intruders closed the church and it became part of Art museum. Crosses that were erected on cupolas of the church for many years were replaced with bubble vanes made of colorful glass. Finally, although appearance of the church was changed so that it would look more like an art museum, when Lithuania got back its independence in 1991, the church was given back to Kaunas archbishopric.  Cupolas of the church where again decorated with crosses.  In 2005 in the basement of the St. Michael the Archangel Church there was an interesting museum opened called Blind Museum.

Nowadays the St. Michael the Archangel Church is one of the main symbols of Kaunas city. Although it was built by Russian initiative, it is now a valuable Lithuanian architectural monument. The St. Michael the Archangel Church also does not reflect typical Russian onion shaped temples, but however, its` unique appearance obviously tell that this building is an expression of cultural mix in Lithuania.